Lolley: Don't jump off that bridge

There's a general panic - panic I tell you – over the Pittsburgh Steelers' 24-21 loss at Toronto against the Buffalo Bills.

The defense allowed Trent Edwards and company to march down the field twice and score first-quarter touchdowns.

The offense turned the ball over on its first possession and the offensive line didn't dominate as it did in the preseason opener against Philadelphia.

But come on down off that bridge.

It was, after all, just a preseason game. And you'd better believe that Buffalo, which is trying very hard to mine the Toronto market, wanted to win this game.

In fact, I'd be willing to bet the Bills did more than the usual in game-planning for this contest.

How else can you explain both of Edwards' touchdown passes going to tight end Robert Royal, a seven-year veteran with just 11 career TD catches?

The Bills knew Tyrone Carter was out there instead of Troy Polamalu and targeted the tight end.

You can bet the Bills' ownership told the coaching staff to put on a good show.

That's no excuse, but Buffalo wanted very much to win this game and it showed.

© I also don't put a lot of stock in a third-quarter kickoff return.

McKelvin was considered the premiere kick return men in this year's draft. And his touchdown came against a group of guys who likely won't be on the roster when the regular season rolls around.

There weren't many guys who will be regulars out there on that kick and it showed.

Rookie linebacker Bruce Davis better learn how to get off a block, though, if he wants to dress on Sundays.

© I did find it interesting the Steelers used punter Paul Ernster on so many kickoffs. Then again, they were likely just trying to save Jeff Reed's leg.

I did find it interesting that Mitch Berger, signed this week to compete with Ernster for the punting job, did all of the holding on kicks.

That tells me the team is trying to get Berger ready for that job and that it isn't necessarily comfortable with Ernster as its punter.

And Berger was the better of the two in this game, averaging 47.5 yards on four punts, with three downed inside the 20 and one touchback. Ernster punted once for 45 yards and a touchback.

Reed did miss a 42-yard field goal from Berger's hold, however.

© Lawrence Timmons again impressed and you really have to wonder how the coaching staff will be able to keep Larry Foote in the game ahead of him.

Foote is a solid player and he's not going to hurt you out there. But Timmons is a difference-maker.

© Some will look at this performance and say that Justin Hartwig didn't do much in his chance to win the starting center job.

But Buffalo's defensive line is much better than Philadelphia's, particularly with the addition of Marcus Stroud. Stroud was acquired in an offseason trade with Jacksonville and still has Pro Bowl ability in the middle.

Hartwig had a holding penalty called on him, but it really wasn't as much a hold as it was guard Chris Kemoeatu and the man he was engaged with running over Hartwig as he tried to block his man. The ensuing scrum caused Hartwig to lose his footing and he and his man fell to the ground.

That is something I've noticed about Hartwig, though. He does go to the ground more than you'd like.

© Left tackle Marvel Smith also had his hands full with Aaron Schobel, but that's not a surprise. Schobel is a premiere pass rusher.

It was a good welcome back to the league for Smith, whose still getting his legs under him after having back surgery.

Smith will get better.

© Dennis Dixon has already gotten better. The kid has nice poise in the pocket and is delivering the ball much better than he was early in camp.

Tee Martin or Omar Jacobs this kid isn't.

And his touchdown run was a thing of beauty as he tip-toed down the sidelines after picking up a nice block from tight end Dezmond Sherrod.

© With tight end Jonathan Dekker's knee injury in this game, a roster spot may have opened up for Cody Boyd or Sherrod, though I thought Boyd might have a good shot of beating out Dekker anyway.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.

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